High School Sports

Choices await draftees

Nobody knows if Zac Fuesser’s cell phone will be set to vibrate Friday night. But if it rings during York High’s commencement ceremonies, those in attendance will hear “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Fuesser is among the hundreds of young men across the country who will be close to their phones as Major League Baseball holds its annual draft Thursday and Friday. It is likely to be the most exciting and nerve-wracking time of their lives.

“I’m the only one in my class to have permission to take a cell phone to graduation,” said Fuesser, South Carolina’s Gatorade player of the year for baseball. “I’ll definitely be sitting in front of the TV and by the phone Thursday and Friday.”

Most college players who have completed their junior seasons have a good idea of where they stand regarding the draft. For most high school seniors, the draft usually is an unknown.

“It’s all about economics,” Sumter High coach Brooks Shumake said. “It depends on how high (the players) go and what they’re offered, what kind of interest a club has in them as to whether or not they’re going to be signable.”

But, Shumake added, “everybody’s signable if the price is right.”

An 18-year-old might think he is ready for the big leagues, but scouts might not. How well the two parties reconcile that disparity can mean the difference between earning a huge signing bonus and attending college the next year.

Matt Price probably will have to make such a decision. Price, a right-handed pitcher for Sumter who finished his senior season 7-4 with an ERA of less than 0.40, signed with USC in November and is projected as a middle-round draft pick.

Adam Westmoreland, a left-hander who went 9-1 with an 0.85 ERA while leading Brookland-Cayce to the Class 3A championship, also signed a letter of intent with USC. Like Price, he is projected to be selected anytime after the fourth round.

“I don’t have a figure in my head,” Price said. “I’ve talked to a couple of my coaches who played pro ball, and they said if they come out with some outrageous amount, you should go (pro). But, right now, you should concentrate on getting into college and playing in college.”

Westmoreland has not set a dollar figure, either.

“I’m going to let them (the team that drafts him) make the decision on what they think I’m worth, tell them what I’m worth and let them make the decision,” he said. “I just want to play ball somewhere; it doesn’t matter where.”

Hartsville pitcher Jordan Lyles was a Shrine Bowl wide receiver, so his decision is complicated by a possible future in college football.

“There is a lot of interest in Lyles,” said Shumake, a Hartsville native. “There’d be 15 scouts watching him pitch, so it’ll be interesting to see where he goes.

“There weren’t as many scouts watching Matt, but you never know when one scout says, ‘OK, we’re going to take this guy. These other people are missing him.’ You just don’t know.”

That is why Fuesser will carry his phone with his cap and gown Friday night.Reach McLaurin at (803) 240-3514.